SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — A proposal to reduce prison time for some domestic violence and sexual abuse crimes has sparked outrage in the Dominican Republic.

Proposed changes approved by a legislative committee include reducing the sentence for sexual abuse of a minor from 5 years to 3 years in most cases.

Another change would reduce the penalty for some forms of domestic violence, treating it as a serious offense only when there is death or major injury. The new code would also provide for jail terms in cases of defamation.

Human rights groups and women's advocates protested the changes outside Congress on Thursday. Justice Committee chairman Demostenes Martinez says the changes reflect 12 years of debate. The new code must still be approved by the full Congress and president.